Season Five (Fox)
In watching this last collection of the first Stargate spinoff, one can’t help but think of another sci-fi series that became a TV classic; Star Trek: Deep Space 9. This isn’t a bad thing, either.
Like DS9, Stargate: Atlantis launched in part thanks to a “parent show.” In Trek’s case, it was Next Generation. With Atlantis it was the original SG-1. Both shows had shaky starts. It wasn’t until the parents left for the great beyond that the spin-offs came to their own.
Part of this is the importing of veteran cast members from the original show. Don’t say DS-9 didn’t benefit from the introduction of Michael Dorn as Worf. The same could be said for Atlantis, first with Amanda Tapping (Colonel Carter), then after she left Trek vet Robert Picardo (Richard Woolsey). Another point probably was the best of the SG writers, directors and crew could now concentrate on one show instead of spreading their assets over too many episodes.
What we ended up with was probably the best season of Atlantis possible. Series stars Joe Flanigan (Lt. Sheppard), Rachel Lutrell (Teyla), Jason Momoa (Ronon), David Hewlett (Dr. McKay) all feel quite comfortable in their respective roles, and maximize their performances on it. Picardo fits in nicely as new commander Woolsey. Hewlett in particular seemed to be going all out. In this season McKay moved quite effectively from comic relief and technospeak to what felt like a full character.
The special effects budget felt larger too, because there are a lot more trick camera work and eye popping scenery going down this season. The final episode, “Enemy At the Gate,” is a solid visual spectacular, with lots of shifting scenes, space combat and even a surprise or two. Another favorite is an early episode, “Ghost In the Machine,” where certain aspects of the Replicators are given a final solution.
To be quite honest, series creators Robert Cooper and Joseph Mallozzi, probably knowing this was the last season, decided it was time to leave with as much fan service as possible. Main enemies such as the Wraith, Replicators and Tyre have pretty effective last hurrahs. Relationships, like Dr. McKay’s, are finally cemented. Lots of t’s are crossed, i’s are dotted, and when all is said and done, the series leaves with a nice twist but an overall feeling of satisfaction. The same could be said for DS9, too.
As for this collection itself, it comes with a virtual ton of extra content. The 20 episodes are surrounded by what feels like an equal number of commentary tracks. There are enough special effects sidebars to keep the demanding tech geek pleased. Fun comes in the form of side pieces like “Ronon v. Tyre.” Most important, series star Joe Flanigan (Lt. Colonel Sheppard) has a five minute farewell that’s as proper a send off as one could hope for.
In all, if you have to go, whether one is talking about DS9 or Atlantis, this is the way a TV series should go.
Check out a whole raft full of video clips here.